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/ This article is sponsored by
World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
WWF's ReSource: Plastic platform is helping companies implement ways to reduce the most plastic, measure the impact — and hold them all to account in the process. WWF’s Erin Simon told us more.
Plastic waste is plaguing us. We know our use of this delightfully cheap and
needs to change, but changing effectively can be hard — and, though many
to reduce plastic waste through multiple
that have sprung up to help companies approach plastic differently, gaps and
A new resource that gives us hope is
ReSource:Plastic, led by WWF — which is deploying its team of plastic experts to help
companies identify the interventions that can reduce the most plastic, implement
them and measure the impact, while collaborating with other companies — and
holding them all to account in the process.
ReSource’s principal members are CPG companies — including The Coca-Cola
Company, Keurig Dr
Procter & Gamble,
Starbucks and Tetra Pak — who, along with partners Ellen MacArthur
Foundation and Ocean Conservancy, are aiming to prevent 100 million metric
tons of plastic waste in the coming years. One of the unique aspects of ReSource
is that it will track the collective progress made by its members; participating
companies might even be able to challenge each other — there’s nothing like a
little competition towards a shared cause.
We caught up with Erin Simon, Director of Sustainability R&D at WWF, to find
out more about this new activation hub and how it can help illuminate the road
Erin Simon: As we all likely know, ocean plastic pollution can’t be solved
with a single solution. Instead we need to fix a complex, global and broken
plastic materials system by turning off the faucet of plastic waste leaking into
our oceans and other ecosystems. We started ReSource:
Plastic because we recognize the role of
business as a critical stakeholder to accelerating the systems change we
in addition to public policy, cities and people (consumers).
Currently, stakeholders throughout the plastic materials system are largely
operating in silos. This is part of the reason why we’re seeing waste flood our
oceans at a rate that research says is approximately one dump truck per minute.
To illustrate this: Companies can make something 100 percent recyclable — but if
a consumer chucks it in the trash, or the recycling is contaminated, or access
to recycling facilities doesn’t exist locally — that item is going into a
landfill, or ending up in nature. That’s why if companies really want to
increase plastic recycling, they have to go beyond their own products — and
that’s where things start getting really complicated.
That’s why ReSource is built for our Members to work beyond their supply chains,
so we can solve for the pain points across the system — like, work with other
companies to bring new ideas and proven solutions to scale; with other key NGO
and on-the-ground partners to ensure environmental and social integrity of
solutions; or with cities and civil society to ensure successful on-the-ground
ES: The only way companies will truly effect change would be to take on some
ambitious strategies that may disrupt their day-to-day and status quo. It’s a
daunting task, but it can (and must) be done. Despite the figurative mountain to
climb, we find that where companies lack confidence is understanding even where
and how to begin being part of this systems change.
Where do we begin? What actions do we need to take — and how do we know they’re
working? Questions like these are the perceived barriers to entry that can really
hold up progress. This sense of apprehension and uncertainty are why companies
aren’t able to take the big steps we need in order to mitigate their plastic
waste footprint. This is why WWF understands the value of providing companies
with the clarity they need to overcome them.
Our 2019 report, No Plastic in Nature: A Practical Guide for Business
outlines four proven strategies that nearly any company can deploy when
approaching this issue. Then, through ReSource, we go on to help companies solve
for the what, how and why by identifying what specific actions they should be
taking, and how they’re working once in-progress.
ES: The ReSource Footprint Tracker will be the centerpiece of the
activation hub. It will be the tool to tell companies where to start, identify
intervention points for action, and how to optimize these actions in order to
meet their commitment objectives. Because all companies will be using the
tracker, it will also allow us to see the aggregate progress being made toward
our goal of preventing 10M metric tons of plastic waste.
Currently in-development by WWF’s research & development team, the footprint
tracker is being piloted by our Principal Members, so it’s tried and tested by
the time ReSource begins Member recruitment in January 2020.
Because we’re still piloting the methodology, we don’t yet have baseline
results; but the goal will be to paint a picture of a company’s plastic
and more importantly, looking at the fate of the plastic companies are putting
into the system — what are they making, where it goes, how much of it is
recycled or composted, how much of the material is likely ending up outside of
the waste management system, and so forth. From there, we can design the right
interventions to break down those barriers to collection.
ES: WWF sees the success of companies and meeting their goals an essential
part of the broader No Plastic in Nature strategy — our global, multi-faceted
campaign to end plastic pollution. For ReSource, member companies must track
their progress per the footprint tracker, and then publicly report out on an
annual basis accordingly.
This reporting element isn’t just to hold companies accountable to their
commitments, though. The possibility of companies missing the mark on goals is,
in a way, embedded within the design of our program. We effectively see ReSource
as one big feedback loop — if companies are showing they can’t make progress on
a certain activity, we’ll need to recalibrate so that they can shift their focus
to actions that may bring better results. The unique value proposition of
ReSource is the rigor that [holds] companies to the very high standards for
commitment and self-improvement.
ES: Our initial target is to prevent a minimum of 10 million metric tons
of plastic waste pollution per year through 2030. Knowing it will take some
time to ramp up, our initial goal is to address about 5 million metric tons of
plastic by the end of 2022. Ideally, with new members and increasing activities,
we hope to grow that impact annually. Cumulatively by 2030, we envision
addressing a minimum of 50 million metric tons of mismanaged plastic through the
However, we’re aspiring to much more. We think the collaborative element of
ReSource that forces our Members to go beyond their operations — information
sharing, co-investing, cross-sectoral engagement — has incredible potential to
catalyze breakthroughs and bring game-changing solutions to scale.
Published Oct 2, 2019 2pm EDT / 11am PDT / 7pm BST / 8pm CEST
This article, produced in cooperation with the Sustainable Brands editorial team, has been paid for by one of our sponsors.